The Division of Justice has charged 4 Louisville cops in reference to Breonna Taylor’s homicide

Washington — The Justice Department on Thursday filed federal charges against four current and former Louisville police officers in connection with the 2020 shooting. Breonna Taylorwho was shot and killed by police during a raid on her apartment while she slept.

The charges against defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, Kelly Goodlett and Brett Hankison include various civil rights violations, conspiracy, use of force and obstruction. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the civil rights charges against the three officers stem from the alleged falsification of an affidavit used to obtain the search warrant that authorized the early morning raid on Taylor’s apartment.

“The federal indictments announced today allege that members of the local investigative unit falsified an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home, that the act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations led to Ms. Taylor’s death.” Garland said at the Justice Department.

EMT Taylor, 26, was shot and killed in 2020. on March 13, when Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) officers broke into her apartment, where she was sleeping with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Walker thought the officers were intruders and fired a gun as they entered, striking one in the leg. When officers responded to the apartment, they fired 22 shots, one of which struck Taylor in the chest, killing her.

Months after Taylor’s death, LMPD fired Hankinson and Jaynes, and the department said Thursday that the police chief had begun “dismissal procedures” for Meany and Goodlett, who are still on the force.

In charging documents, prosecutors alleged that Goodlett and Jaynes, both detectives, included false and misleading information in the search warrant, specifically that a postal inspector informed Goodlett that the subject of their drug trafficking investigation had received packages at Taylor’s address. That was false, prosecutors say, but Meany, a sergeant and their supervisor, approved the warrant application anyway.

Breonna Taylor-Federal Charge
This undated photo shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

Photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar via AP

“We allege that the defendants knew that their actions in falsifying the statement could create a dangerous situation, and we allege that these illegal actions resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland said, noting that none of the officers who executed the warrant “were involved. in writing the warrant and was unaware of the false and misleading statements contained therein.

The attorney general said Jaynes, Goodlett and Meany also “took steps to conceal their wrongful conduct after Ms. Taylor’s death” and “conspired to mislead federal, state and local authorities investigating the incident.”

Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly met in Jaynes’ garage in 2020. May 17 night when he saw media reports that the postal inspector was contradicting the information in the search warrant application. The pair hatched a scheme to tell investigators a false story about the statement, according to charging documents. They both told similar stories about a postal inspector casually implying that the target had received packages at Taylor’s address, a claim they knew to be false, prosecutors said.

Meany is also accused of lying to investigators about the officers’ unannounced entry into Taylor’s home. According to charging documents, Meany told the FBI that his officers executed the warrant at the request of the SWAT unit, when in fact he knew the unit had not made such a request.

In a separate indictment, Hankison was charged with two counts of deprivation of rights for firing 10 rounds through a window and glass door after Taylor was killed. Hankison was acquitted on state charges of wanton endangerment in court this year.

The charges come more than a year after the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the patterns and practices of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, a separate and ongoing investigation, the department said in a statement.

“While the charges announced today are punitive against individual officers, the ongoing pattern or practice investigation is a civil investigation into allegations of systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by LMPD and Louisville Metro,” the department said. “A civil pattern or practice investigation is conducted independently of a criminal case by a different team of career staff.

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